We are re-watching Lord of the Rings with the kids on Friday nights. They are long movies so it takes us about six weeks of Friday nights to watch the whole thing. I've seen them many times - they are among my favourite movies.
But there are a few things I am really enjoying.
The wisdom of Gandalf, for example. When Frodo says he wishes the ring had never come to him, that he wishes this had never happened, Gandalf replies:
So do all who live to see such times. But that is not ours to decide. All you can do is decide what to do with the time that is given you.
I had a shiver run through me. Because it gets straight to the heart of the matter. Life is not always fair. Ask anyone who was in their early 20's during the World Wars. Ask the people of Pakistan. Ask the men and women and children who have spouses serving in Afghanistan. Ask those who don't have enough to eat. Other people will always have more, be luckier, have less worries. And conversely, there will always be those who look enviously at you. But if you wait for life to be fair to really live it, then you run the risk of missing it altogether.
The friendship of Sam. He didn't want to go on a quest. He'd have been happy sitting by his fire in the shire with a pint and a bacon sandwich (actually, that sounds pretty good) but he made a promise to stick by Frodo, and he kept by it. Never wavering, never faltering, strong in the face of adversity, optimistic when Frodo was not. Sam was cheerful even when he was cold and tired and hungry, and was true to that friendship even when it seemed hopeless. And in the end, that friendship saved the world.
We could all do with a friend like Sam.
And on life in general. At one point Sam tells Frodo that he knows know why the great stories were so great. Full of danger and darkness, but in the end good triumphed because the people in the stories held to the notion that goodness was worth holding onto. They persevered and didn't turn back when they had the chance.